Jack Yarwood's Research Group

[In October 1967 Dr Jack Yarwood took up a lectureship in physical chemistry at Durham. In 1978 he became senior lecturer and then in 1987 reader. In October 1993 he left with his research group for Sheffield Hallam University, taking up a professorship and the directorship of the Materials Research Institute there. In retirement, he lives at Sheffield.]

Group members by year of joining (Each postgraduate listed obtained the qualification shown.)

1969 David B. MacDonald (associated senior demonstrator from October 1, 36 months), George W. Brownson Ph.D. (i.e. on October 1 started a Ph.D. period of 36 months full-time); 1972 Colin Barker Ph.D.; 1975 Robert Ackroyd Ph.D., Peter L. James M.Sc. (i.e. on October 1 started an M.Sc. study period of 12 months full-time); 1978 Kevin A. Arnold Ph.D.; 1979 Graham P. O'Neill Ph.D.; 1981 Witold F. Pacynko Ph.D.; 1982 Graham P. O'Neill (postdoctoral, 12 months); 1983 Patrick Fowler and Noel Thomas (associated senior demonstrators, 24 and 12 months), Brendan Catlow Ph.D.; 1985 Patrick A. Gillespie (associated senior demonstrator, 24 months), Francois Guillaume (postdoctoral, October 1, 12 months); 1986 Gareth H. Davies (postdoctoral, October 1, 24 months), Andrew J. Whitley Ph.D., Richard E. Wilde (visiting professor, USA/TX/Lubbock/TexasTech.Univ., January 8, 7 months, Richard Buchner (visting research fellow, D/Regensburg Univ, September 8, 12 months); 1987 Hervé Ancelin (visiting fellow, F/Bordeaux/Ecole Sup.Chimie&Physique, September 2, 12 months); 1989 Yi Ping Song and N.M. Dixon (postdoctorals, September 1 and October 16, 36.5 and 12 months), David J. Christopher and Margaret H. Greenhall Ph.D.s, Vivian M. Shelley (honorary research fellow, 51 months - final 3 associated with Robin Harris' Research Group); 1990 N. Simon Nunn and Jonathan K.F. Tate Ph.D.s, Sahab S. Farwaneh M.Sc.; 1991 P.J. Lukes, (postdoctoral, January 1, 27 months), Rory Dempster Ph.D. (final 12 month's full-time study supervised by JasPal Badyal) Marcia R. Pereira Ph.D. (started January 1; MRP's concluding 19 months' full-time study began 1993, January 1; the final 10 months were supervised by Robin Harris); 1992 Julian Eastoe (associated fixed-term lecturer, 12 months), E.G. Zoidis (postdoctoral, January 15, 20.5 months); 1993 Margaret H. Greenhall (postdoctoral, April 1, 9 months - final 3 nominally with Robin Harris' Research Group), A.S.M. Mortensen (zzzz, February 1, 6 months). [In 1992, Reena Banga and Bryan Munday and Nigel C. Shewring started full-time Ph.D.study; after 12 months, they moved to Sheffield Hallam, to where their Ph.D.registration was transferred; outcome not implied here.]

Jack Yarwood, in the contribution below (October 2011), recalls the early years of his research at Durham. (His recollections that are more general are in the Decades 60s section.)

The most abiding memory of those early days was the annual scramble for research students. This was the time before the advent of substantial industrial support, so we depended on CASE awards (cooperative awards in science and engineering) from SERC (the Government's Science and Engineering Research Council, forerunner of EPSRC), to which we applied directly, and an allocation, from SERC also, which was very much in the hands of the Head of Department. Even now (45 years later), when Wimbledon comes around, I feel vaguely anxious, because it was the most stressful time of the year for me. In the first 10 years in Durham I was allocated 2 students (+2 for whom I raised my own CASE support). When Tom Waddington arrived and became HOD (Head of Department), I wrote him a focussed letter about this and found myself in deep hot water. I’m not sure he ever forgave me. And I was not the only one to suffer in this way (as Mike Crampton has reminded me!). Things became more meritocratic after David Clark took over as HOD in 1981 Professor David Clark.

To prepare for research, my first job on arrival in the dept was to apply to SERC for money for a new far-IR machine (a Beckmann-RIIC FS 720). It cost £3,700, and came without the PDRA, whom I had applied for; because “we expect Dr Yarwood to conduct his own experiments”. My first student, George Brownson (1969-1972), not without his own eccentricities, operated the instrument and got some very interesting data. He came into my office one day with the spectrum of ICl in a mixture of benzene and hexane. It comprised a well defined doublet (one component in the complexing aromatic donor, and one at the expected position in hexane). This spectrum started a 25 year programme of work to study the picosecond dynamics in liquids (using IR and Raman), and helped to bring my work to the attention of colleagues in Bordeaux, notably Jean C. Lassegue and Marcel Besnard who offered me a visiting chair in Bordeaux (1989-1999) in return for help with their ablilty to publish in English. These were undoubtedly the most exciting years of my scientific career. We studied many systems containing the halogens and other complexing systems in the quest to find a system which would allow IR spectroscopy to be used in the same way as NMR was(is) - i.e. to study fast interchange between ‘sites’ in a liquid. We worked without much success it must be said, but it was great fun, and we published 25 papers together over the 10 year period.

Back in Durham, Tom W suggested to me (one day in 1979) that it ought to be possible to extract far-IR radiation from the synchrotron source under construction at Daresbury - and that such a source would have some serious advantages over lab sources. He suggested that I contact Daresbury and get involved.

So in 1979, I went down to talk to Ian Munro (the scientist in charge of UV/IR beam line construction, and a fluorescence depolarisation man himself) about an IR beam line. We did eventually get IR13 beamline built, but not before I had struggled for 4 years with the X-ray physicists, who believed in a god-given right to get the most important beam lines installed ahead of everything else.

I learned much about politics (and IR beamline physics!) in those 4 years, but we were still the first group in the world to actually take IR photons from a SRS source. Others in Japan and the USA followed quickly afterwards. We published 6 papers in 6 years of effort, before they removed the beamline in 1984 to install ‘wigglers’. It was replaced in ~1990 with a more modern version, long after I had lost interest. It was an exciting, but difficult time for me, being away from home a lot and getting very little out of it at the end of the day.

The 1980s turned out better than the 1970s. I managed to keep my dynamics work going (without EPSRC support) while attempting to change tack out of chemical physics and into (or towards) surface spectroscopy. This was partly with the help of Joe Howard Joe Howard's Research Group who completed his Ph.D with Tom W in 1976. I also started a project with Gordon Tiddy at Unilever (Port Sunlight) on liquid crystals(1982-85?) and in catalytic surface chemistry (with ICI Wilton and Joe, 1983-86??). So I had to think in wider terms about the application of IR to more practical problems. I had at this time only a few students, but numbers began to rise rapidly after 1985, when we commenced a programme of research in collaboration with Applied Physics (Mike Petty and Gareth Roberts) on Langmuir-Blodgett films (the ultimate in surface films) which lasted for almost 10 years. We had taken delivery of an FTIR instrument (a Nicolet?) in 1982, thanks to efforts by David Clark, Brian Tanner (Physics), Joe, Jim Feast Jim Feast's Research Group, Arthur Banister Arthur Banister's Research Group and others in the team that had put together a proposal for an industrial research laboratory (IRL) to capture funds from industry for research consultancy. The IRL was to have been built (so we thought), by a grant from ???. However precisely at the crucial point it was announced, at the end(!) of one of our evening meetings, that ??? had pulled out. Nevertheless, the University did build the IRL in 1985, and it operated for eighteen years. But, of course, without the kudos of the ??? logo.

The new IR instrument, and others from Mattson, which I acquired in the late 80s, were ideal for the characterisation of monolayer films (not possible with dispersive instruments). And, with Gareth involved, we were able to get a series of EPSRC and industrial grants to support the work. Molecules were made by our synthetic colleagues (Jim and Martin Bryce Martin Bryce's Research Group in particular) and we made the films and tried (often with industrial support BP, Shell, ICI, Astra Zeneca ????) to relate structure to functionality.

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